Newsportal - Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Important stress questionnaire now available in German
Stress is a central topic in psychology and health sciences because in its chronic form it affects physical and mental health. An important and new type of questionnaire to assess subjectively perceived stress is the so-called Stress Overload Scale (SOS). Researchers from Bochum and London, among them Professor Maike Luhmann and Professor Oliver T. Wolf, both from Ruhr University Bochum, have now developed a German translation of the SOS. The team presents its findings in the journal Psychological Test Adaptation and Development, published online and open access on 24 March 2023.
Stress as a mismatch between environmental demands and personal resources
From a psychological perspective, stress is usually characterized by the interaction of two factors: high demands combined with insufficient opportunities to cope with these demands. “Although various stress theories emphasize the importance of these two factors, only few questionnaires capture both components,” describes first author Peter Hähner from the Department of Psychological Methods at Ruhr University Bochum. “One exception is the Stress Overload Scale, which is scientifically considered a particularly promising scale for predicting health consequences of stress.”
The SOS was developed in English in 2012 by Professor James Amirkhan at California State University. It is designed as a self-report measure and allows working with large samples. The questionnaire focuses on the question, “How have you felt in the past week?” and contains 30 statements in the long version and ten in the short version. It is thus significantly shorter than other questionnaires of its kind.
However, there has been a problem for researchers in German-speaking countries who wanted to use the Stress Overload Scale for their work: The SOS was developed in English. Translations were only available in Chinese, Arabic and the South African national language Setswana. A German version was missing.
Research team from Psychological Methodology and Cognitive Psychology
“The SOS is a very valuable measurement tool. Moreover, it is important to use internationally identical measurement instruments to be able to relate research results from different parts of the world,” explains first author Lena Pfeifer from the Chair of Cognitive Psychology in Bochum. “The Stress Overload Scale thus had to be available in a German version in order to set up our stress research internationally even better.”
This was an ideal research project for the team from Psychological Methodology and Cognitive Psychology because the translation of a psychological questionnaire represents a demanding and complex procedure in which both disciplines could contribute their expertise.
In two harmonized studies, the researchers developed a German translation of the SOS short version as well as a new, extra-short German scale of the SOS with only four statements. Last author Leonard Frach, PhD student in the psychology department at University College London: “Our German short versions of the Stress Overload Scale show good psychometric quality, so the questionnaires can now be used in research with German speaking participants.” And Lena Pfeifer and Peter Hähner add: “The German version of the Stress Overload Scale represents another piece of the puzzle that could bring us another step closer to a general understanding of stress.”
The publication was funded by the Collaborative Research Center 874 (SFB 874) of the German Research Foundation. The SFB 874 "Integration and Representation of Sensory Processes" existed from 2010 to 2022 at Ruhr University Bochum.
Peter Haehner, Lena Sophie Pfeifer, Lisa Maria Jahre, Maike Luhmann, Oliver T. Wolf, Leonard Frach: Validation of a German version of the Stress Overload Scale and comparison of different time frames in the instructions, in: Psychological Test Adaptation and Development, 2023, DOI: 10.1027/2698-1866/a000037
27 March 2023